Sure, “Bachelorette” is fiction, but after sitting down with writer-director Leslye Headland, it’s quite clear that the film is as vivacious as it is because of the honest chemistry between her cast and because of her fun-loving and spunky attitude.
The film stars Kirsten Dunst, Lizzy Caplan and Isla Fisher as Regan, Gena and Katie, a trio with a friendship dating way back to high school. The ladies may be all grown up, but when they reunite for Becky’s (Rebel Wilson) wedding, immaturity and irresponsibility take over; they indulge in way too much coke, rip Becky’s wedding dress and have to spend the entire night before the wedding trying to clean up their mess.
The behavior in “Bachelorette” is outrageous and deplorable, but downright hilarious and Headland knows it. Thrilled with her incredible cast, there was no way Headland would let the immense success of “Bridesmaids” rain on her parade, she stuck to her guns and delivered exactly what she intended to – a fun film well worth repeat viewings.
Check out everything Headland had to say about bringing “Bachelorette” to life in the roundtable interview below and be sure to catch the film in theaters, on VOD or on iTunes now.
You had the opportunity to make some changes to the film after Sundance. What did that entail?
Leslye Headland: It basically meant that I got a new editor, Wyatt Smith, who had worked with Weinstein Company on other projects. He and I went back through the film, we got notes from Tom [Quinn] and Jason [Janego] and took them, and did another edit and then we were done, and we mixed it.
So no reshoots?
No! We would never have gotten any of those people in the same room again. [Laughs] Not with Adam Scott on “Parks and Rec” and Isla doing press for “Gatsby” and shooting a new film in New Orleans. It was actually sort of a blessing because it was like, you’re never gonna get those guys in a room again, like ever. [Laughs] It was a miracle it happened the first time. We had 23 days to get all of them in there.
How do you feel about reality shows like “The Bachelor?”
I think they’re really vulgar and disgusting. I think that a bunch of women in a room trying to f*** a guy is pretty disgusting and I don’t think that women doing coke at a wedding is. [Laughs] I think that “The Bachelorette” sets us back 30 years in feminism. I guess people watch that to feel morally superior to those people, which I think is also terrible. I don’t feel morally superior to my characters. I hope that people empathize with them actually. That’s sort of the point is to say they’re flawed and they’re assholes, but they have their own problems and they have some redeeming qualities. When I watched some reality television, I always felt horrifically bad for these girls in the same way that I feel bad for porn stars. When I watch porn, I’m just like, “Oh god, what happened? Are you okay? Are you on drugs? Why didn’t your friends tell you not to do this?” I just feel really bad for them.
How do you feel about how well the film is doing on iTunes?
I couldn’t be happier about that. When Tom and Jason brought up the distribution deal of releasing it early on iTunes and VOD, I was like, “Yes.” [Laughs] I don’t know if I would have felt like that with a different story, but this story specifically, I was like, get it out there as soon as possible. Get it into people’s hands as soon as possible. I made the movie to be watched several times because that’s how I watch good movies. I’m not an avid moviegoer in the sense that I see everything; I find a couple things I love and I watch them probably 20 to 30 times a year. I’ve seen “The Shining” probably 150 times. That’s just counting when I watched it in college. [Laughs] I’m just a repeat viewer and so when I was making the film, I wanted to make it essentially for an audience that watched films at home and with their friends, and wanted to introduce it to their friends, and that there were going to be jokes that they wouldn’t get until maybe the second or the third time that they watched it. Not that they didn’t think it wasn’t funny, but they just didn’t catch it because they were trying to figure out what was going on with the plot and I think that’s what you get with the generation of “Lebowski,” of a generation of people who were brought up on films that got better the more times that you watched them.
I think you should absolutely see it on the big screen. I think you should see it with your friends. I think you should see it like I did last night at the premiere or at the premiere in LA and hear all the people laughing at it, hear all these people having a similar experience to you. At the same time, so that my baby didn’t die, I was like, “Get it out there! Please, get it out there!” Otherwise it’s gonna be a coat hanger in the bathtub. I can’t believe I just made that joke. I’m sorry.
How’d the release of “Bridesmaids” affect your process making this movie?
“Bridesmaids” opened three or four weeks before we started shooting, so the script was locked. [Laughs] If there were similar jokes, we’re f***ed. We hadn’t casted Becky yet though and I really wanted to cast Rebel [Wilson]. Some of my financers said, “You’re already gonna get killed. People are gonna murder you because this movie just made a whole bunch of money. They’re already gonna say that you’re not as good as that movie. Why would you cast an actress that was also in that movie?” And it was that moment that I was like, I’m not making any creative decisions because of “Bridesmaids.” This is the best f***ing actress for the part; she’s f***ing incredible. And the fact that I was getting that sort of information from people was coming out of fear and I was like, I’m not gonna make a decision out of fear right now. If I have to do extra explaining when I’m there, if I have to explain to people that it was a play before and if nobody cares then fine. I think once you’ve seen this movie you can see that, beyond title and logline, there isn’t too much in common with them. [Laughs] Maybe with the exception of Rebel Wilson. I made that choice because 25 years from now I wanna look at the movie and not think, “Oh, right. Remember when I made that decision based on that other movie that came out?” I wanna be like, “That was my first movie and it was the movie that I wanted to make.”
How about casting?
Casting was a f***ing dream. I don’t think it’s ever gonna happen again in that way. The stars just aligned. Lizzy and Adam [Scott] came to see the play, Lizzy loved Gena and I said, “I’ve written the screenplay. Do you wanna read it?” And she said, “Yes,” she read it and said, “I’m gonna send it to Adam. I think he should play Clyde.” Adam was like, “I’ll be Clyde.” I got a call from Isla’s agent that said, “Isla Fisher just read your script. Can you meet with her?” I met with her and she’s like, “I love Katie.” And I was like, “You’re perfect for her. I can’t believe it.” And I got a call from Kirsten’s agent – literally, I was just like, “Are you kidding me?” And for somebody who’d been with the script for five years, it was just so surreal. And then Kirsten was like, “I think we should cast [James] Marsden as the dude, you know, as the dude I f*** in the bathroom.” And I was like, “That’s the most genius idea. He’s never gonna do it.” That part is small! You don’t feel it in the movie because it’s played by Marsden and we rewrote some stuff to give him more stuff to do, but as it stood in the script initially, we had a read-through of the script with Marsden there and I was like, “Oh my god. We have to write Marsden another scene.” This is just embarrassing that he has this small part in my movie.
The people that I didn’t know as well were Rebel and Kyle [Bornheimer]. I hadn’t seen “Bridesmaids” when I saw Rebel’s tape so I didn’t know how different her role was in that film. I had only seen her tape for Becky and was just like, “Oh – my – god, she’s so perfect! I have to have her!” I called her and was like, “Please do my movie!” Kyle, I knew him from an episode of “Party Down” because I am so obsessed with “Party Down.” I was like, “Oh yeah, he’s that guy on ‘Party Down,’” and everyone was like, “What?” I was like, “Remember the episode where he goes back to his high school reunion,” and everyone was like, “Nobody knows ‘Party Down’ as well as you do. You have to speak in a different language.” But he had that sort of Aykroyd vibe to him, which is a type of nerd you don’t see much anymore. You see like a skinny nerd or a hipster nerd. I remember watching “Ghostbusters” and being like, “I’m gonna f*** the shit out of Dan Aykroyd … when I’m old enough to f***, I’m gonna f** the shit out of Dan Aykroyd!” [Laughs]
Did anyone have suggestions in terms of things they thought should be changed or things they wouldn’t do?
Oh, yeah! Absolutely, but I’m used to working that way. I’m always like, “So what were your thoughts about it? What worked for you, what didn’t for you?” And they would be honest about it. They wouldn’t say, “I won’t do this movie if this scene’s in it.” It was nothing like that. Like Kirsten would say, “This part, in this scene, doesn’t really make a lot of sense to me. Why would she do this?” Kirsten, even in our first meeting, knew the script inside out. She was like, “You know, I don’t think she’s a J Crew girl.” And I was like, “Oh, I don’t think so either!” And she was like, “Really? Because in the script you say she’s wearing J Crew.” And I was like, “Do I?” [Laughs] Oh, f***! Somebody read the script recently. I haven’t.
It was actually Isla’s pitch to say, I think one of the most memorable lines in the movie, which is, “I think I might be stupid. I don’t understand what anybody’s saying to me most of the time.” That was her pitch for that scene because we couldn’t quite figure out what the scene was about. That was the vibe of it, of these two people connecting and her sort of being a little bit more self-aware than you thought her character was, but the dialogue wasn’t very good. And Rebel actually pitched that whole monologue with the bulimia in the bathroom. Again, it was about bulimia and it was written in a particular way and there was all this stuff, but Rebel said, “You know, I think Becky would phrase it like this and I think that she would actually have covered for her.” She was like, “I just think that makes their relationship more interesting if she did that,” and I said, “I do have to go back and change something later though if that’s the case.” It was sort of my job to keep it all in my head and it was their job to challenge me and tell me what worked and what didn’t. That’s what I think my job is as a director, is to not be a dictator or everything I say is perfect, but you collaborate with people and you utilize them.
Are there any funny behind the scenes moments you can share with us?
First of all, Kyle Bornheimer is amazing at karaoke. And secondly, Adam Scott is amazing at karaoke. Adam Scott sang that REM song, “The End of the World as We Know It” and knew every single line. He wasn’t even looking at the karaoke [machine]. He was just doing it. We sang a lot. I do that a lot with my theater friends, too. It’s so funny; every actor dinner deteriorates into all of us going to sing show tunes.
There was a hurricane. We had to shut down. It was Hurricane Irene and it was because Bloomberg shut everything down and I don’t think it was necessarily because it was going to hit us, but because the snow storm happened the winter before and everyone had sort of gotten f***ed, they were being super cautious and so the subways shut down and once the subways shut down, we had to shut down filming. And nobody got out. Nobody could go back to LA so we all just got stranded there and basically hung out at the hotel and bonded a little bit.